Thursday, October 29, 2015

Yankees’ choice of Miller leads to top reliever award

The New York Yankees chose to let David Robertson walk last offseason, instead opening their wallets for Andrew Miller. The tall, left-handed Miller did a fantastic job for the Yanks and was named the 2015 Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Wednesday (MLB.com).

Andrew Miller
Photo credit: Arturo Pardavilla III via Flickr
The MLB-sanctioned award is voted on by a panel of eight former MLB relievers including Rivera. The National League award (named for former San Diego Padres great Trevor Hoffman) went to former Yankee Mark Melancon, now the closer for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Kansas City Royals’ reliever Wade Davis, who arguably had a better statistical season than Miller, was second in the voting with the Baltimore Orioles’ Zach Britton placing third.

Miller put up great numbers in his inaugural season with the Yanks. In 61.2 innings across 60 games, Miller converted 36 of 38 save chances. Miller racked up 100 strikeouts (14.6 K/9 ratio) with a 1.90 ERA (2.16 FIP) and batters hit just .149 against him.

At the onset of the signing, the Yankees were not certain as to Miller’s role, other than he would be an option for manager Joe Girardi at the end of games. Even as the Yankees headed north from spring training, Girardi had yet to anoint a closer. There was speculation that Girardi might go so far as to mix and match based on the scenario in front of him on a game to game basis.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Has Brian McCann fulfilled Yankees’ expectations?

After the New York Yankees turned to a defense-first offering behind the plate for the 2013 season, they decided it was best to sign an offensive catcher who could still make a difference behind the dish. The Yanks inked Brian McCann, then a longtime backstop for the Atlanta Braves, to a five-year, $85 million contract before the 2014 season.

Brian McCann
Photo Credit: Keith Allison via Flickr
Like many players before him in their first season in the Bronx, McCann took a bit of time to get used to his surroundings. He also found it more difficult to learn a new pitching staff than he expected and his offense seemed to pay the price for it. Until September 2014, McCann was mostly unproductive with a bat in his hands, but over the season’s final month he unleashed an impressive showing (eight home runs and 18 RBIs).

McCann’s final 2014 numbers were decent – .232/.286/.406 with 23 home runs and 75 RBIs. But, mostly the Yankees were pleased with his work behind the plate in 2014 (11.4 runs above average via pitch-framing metrics via StatCorner and 37 percent caught stealing rate), and optimistic that his offensive prowess would return after what he showed at the end of the season. Expectations in 2015 were higher for McCann from an offensive standpoint, while consistency was anticipated while donning the tools of ignorance.

Happy Birthday BYB Hub!

I want to send out birthday wishes to the BYB Hub, a collection of baseball blog sites, of which Yankees Unscripted is a part of, developed by Bleeding Yankee Blue founder Robert Casey.

The main purpose of the BYB Hub is to foster relationships between the individual blog sites and to help cross promote them. We all want to be noticed and Robert had a vision of how to accomplish that.

Many of the sites are focused on the New York Yankees, but all baseball sites are welcome to request membership. If you run your own baseball site and want to be a part of the BYB Hub, you can reach Robert via Twitter @BleednYankeeBlu or me in the comments below.

Finally, I’d like to express my personal thanks to Robert for inviting me to be a part of the BYB Hub at the onset of its formation. It’s been a benefit to the growth of my site and I’ve enjoyed the interactions with the other baseball bloggers in the group.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for SNY.tv. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.



Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Yankees' Tanaka has surgery; no not the dreaded one

Most everyone who follows the New York Yankees waited all season for Masahiro Tanaka to walk off the mound holding his right elbow, the partial tear finally succumbing to the unnatural torque of throwing a baseball. It never happened.

Masahiro Tanaka
Photo credit: Keith Allison via Flickr
However, the partial tear was not the only issue with the elbow; Tanaka still had surgery on his most fragile body part, having a long-existing bone spur removed Tuesday. Tanaka will endure a six-week strengthening program and should be ready for spring training. The Yankees hold out hope that this is not the beginning of something more.

According to Dr. Michael Hausman, Chief of Hand and Elbow Surgery at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the spurs can form or grow as an indirect result of having partial tearing of the ulnar collateral ligament (Daniel Barbarisi - The Wall Street Journal). While the tear may hold up, there is a chance of more spurs forming along the way, and with that the potential need to have more cleaning done to the elbow.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Another year, another Yankees hitting coach fired

For the second straight offseason, the New York Yankees will be looking to fill the role of hitting coach after firing Jeff Pentland, who served in the role for just one season. The 69-year-old Pentland was reportedly told of his departure last week according to the George King III of The New York Post.

The Yankees also released Gary Tuck from his duties as bullpen coach and catching instructor. King mentions Mike Harkey as a potential replacement for Tuck in the bullpen spot. Harkey, who was recently fired by the Arizona Diamondbacks as their pitching coach, was the Yankees bullpen coach from 2008 to 2013 and is good friend of Yankees manager Joe Girardi.

Pentland explained to The Post that he was told that there was a chance that this was a one-season gig from the start, so the firing was not a surprise to him. The lack of shock is especially true considering the massive overall team slump the offense suffered from August through the wild card game.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Is Ellsbury’s contract already an albatross for Yankees?

When the New York Yankees made the reactionary deal to sign Jacoby Ellsbury after being shunned by Robinson Cano, they hoped the center fielder’s up-front performance would compensate for the inevitable downturn at the end of the deal. So far, the Yankees have been completely wrong and the chances for a turnaround seem only slightly plausible.

Jacoby Ellsbury
Photo credit: Keith Allison via Flickr
Baseball clubs make some assumptions on long-term contracts, and Ellsbury’s is no different. A player in his early 30s, coming off an impressive season, and a track record of production would usually infer a happy beginning to the union. Teams are willing to eat the risk at the backend of the deal for what they feel is a safe bet up front.

Ellsbury’s seven-year, $153 million contract per Cot's Baseball Contracts was immediately met with questions because of his proclivity for injury and the deal would take him through his age-36 season. Many could not see Ellsbury, whose game is predicated on running, being at the top of his game in the final two or three years of the contract.

Where does Ellsbury stand on performance value compared with the actual costs of this contract two years into his deal?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Yankees 2015 MVP is…

The New York Yankees reached the 2015 postseason on the backs of several players, but only one name can be labeled the club’s most valuable player. I believe there are six candidates for the honor, but one clear cut winner. Let’s review the players in alphabetical order along with their individual cases, and then my argument for the best choice.

Carlos Beltran


Beltran began the season with a month of baseball that made him look like a washed up player. But, beginning May 1, Beltran was the team’s most consistent hitter.

531 PA, .276/.337/.471, 34 doubles, 19 HR, 67 RBI, 121 OPS+

Beltran showed he can still hit, despite playing an incredibly poor right field.

Dellin Betances


Betances posted superior numbers in his sophomore season, making his mark on 74 games in 2015.

84 IP, 6-4, 9 SV, 4 BS, 14.0 K/9, 4.3 BB/9, 266 ERA+

Those numbers would have been even more impressive, if not for a rocky September when Betances looked like a regular relief pitcher and not one who dominated for much of the season.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Eovaldi's injury furthered Warren's misuse, aided Yankees’ skid

When the New York Yankees lost their wins leader, Nathan Eovaldi, to a season-ending injury on Sept. 5 it was an immediate blow to the club's rotation. Moreover, it can be argued that Eovaldi's injury provoked furthered misuse of Adam Warren, which then aided in the Yankees season-ending skid.

Adam Warren
Photo credit - Keith Allison via Flickr
Eovaldi’s injury hurt both the rotation and the bullpen. Of course, the Yankees lost their most productive starter at the time in Eovaldi. He had been on a tremendous run after mastering his split-finger fastball going 10-2 across 12 starts (73.2 IP) with a 2.93 ERA and a .584 OPS-against, before slumping in two starts leading to the injury.

With Eovaldi out of the picture, the Yankees transitioned Warren back to the rotation after having moved him to the bullpen in late June in an effort to keep his innings down for the rest of the season. The decision was a smart one considering he had thrown less than 80 innings in each of the last two seasons, and showed they valued Warren's future.

Warren’s stint in the pen should have been better served as the Yankees were relying heavily on Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller and consequently their usage was reaching extremes. Warren gave Yankees manager Joe Girardi another option for mid to high-leverage innings, but the skipper did not always use him in such a manner.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Three keys for Yankees in wild card game

The New York Yankees were not expected to be in the postseason according to many pundits, but here they are in a winner-take-all wild card contest against the upstart Houston Astros. What are the keys for the Yankees to advance to the American League Division Series?

Tanaka matching Keuchel


Masahiro Tanaka was signed to be the pitcher for this exact moment. He is paid an ace’s salary to be successful in the big games. There has not been a bigger MLB game for Tanaka. As far as “biggest game of his career” goes, the same should be said about Dallas Keuchel.

Despite pitching on three days’ rest for the first time in his career, Keuchel is believed to be the exact pitcher the Yankees do not want to deal with Tuesday night. Keuchel has not allowed a run to the Yankees across 16 innings this season, while striking out 21 batters.

If Keuchel is remotely as good as his past performances against the Yankees, it will force Tanaka to be at his best. Tanaka cannot afford to let balls sit in the middle of the plate, especially four-seamers that Astros batters will destroy. If Tanaka gets the feel for his splitter early on and keeps the Astros off balance it will go a long way toward keeping the Yankees close (or dare I say ahead) of Keuchel.